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Full text of "History And Human Relation"

OFFICIAL HISTORY: ITS PITFALLS AND CRITERIA
their case, whether by official histories or by the publica-
tion of selected documents. This we must regard as
ac? object legitimate in itself, and academic students
would be over-arrogant if they were to think that
governments exist only in order that historians should
be able to write about them afterwards. But we must
never lose sight of the separate interests of officialdom
on the one hand and academic history on the other,
never allow the distinction to be blurred or the tension
and conflict between the two to be quietened. A book
was published during the Second World War and it
happened that some time later I mentioned in print a
curious howler that it contained. It was not very long
before I was told that I ought not to be severe on the
author on the ground that the book had been written
for the Ministry of Information, in the Ministry's office,
and in time spent as the servant of the Ministry. An
outsider could not have realised this fact, but I am clear
that work produced in this way should always bear
distinct signs of its origin, and never be published in a
form that would make the ordinary reader think it a
normal example of disinterested and independent scholar-
ship. In various other forms there is appearing a sort
of history not avowedly official—pseudo-official perhaps,
or semi-official, or sub-official—and I can well believe
that in a certain sense of the words it would deny that
it had any official character. Similarly there are
" independent" academic historians, yet half-entangled
in officialdom, controlled by the Official Secrets Act,
even amenable to instructions, and not authorised to
tell all the truth they know. It is not always quite

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